Family Histories
of the Swan River Valley
Manitoba, Canada
Pioneer Centennial
History Book
100 Years in the
Swan River Valley
1898 - 1998

John and Mary Alderson

John (Jack) Drury Alderson was born on December 31, 1895 in Collingwood, Ontario. He came along with his parents and siblings to Tent Town in 1898. On October 20, 1920 Jack Alderson married Mary Elizabeth Hogg. They spent the winter in the Thunder Hill District. In the spring of 1921 Jack bought the Jack Mair’s farm, six miles west of Swan River on the Ditch Road. Jack sold feed at The Pas for a spell. While in The Pas, Jack staked a claim to land in Sheridan where the Sherrit Gordon Mines were later located. However, they were not able to prove up on it as the $100 a year for upkeep was unavailable.

In the fall of 1923 they moved to Arran, Saskatchewan where Jack worked at a saw mill owned by the Stewart and Cameron Company.

In the spring of 1930 they moved to Benito and Jack worked out of a Ford Dealer in Pelly, Saskatchewan selling cars and machinery.

On December 17, 1931 while Mary and the children were at the school Christmas concert their house burnt down. There was no insurance and the family only had the clothes they wore. The people of Benito were very good to them taking them into their homes, giving them clothes, donating money and a roof over their head.
In 1933 Jack found employment in Churchill while the family remained in the Valley.

In 1936 they moved to their home on the Crescent Drive. The lot had been purchased for $35 and a steam engine traded for a house.

In 1938 Jack went back to selling cars and machinery for Mr. Campbell. Mary did dressmaking for people to stretch their income - a lot of work for little money. Good gardens and wild berries helped to supplement the family pantry.

As time went by Jack bought heavy machinery and went digging dugouts in Saskatchewan returning to the Valley where he cleared a lot of land with scrub cutters. They bought a section and a half of Crown land six miles north of the Crestview school. They worked hard to bring this land into production removing countless roots and stones. Their first crop was harvested mainly by deer that were plentiful that year. The only compensation for the loss was the meat of one deer that the Government allowed the mounties to shoot for them.

After the children married and went their own way Jack and Mary continued on farming until ill health forced them to sell the farm in 1963 and return to their house on the Crescent Drive that now had running water.

Jack’s health continued to deteriorate and he passed away in May of 1964.
After spending sometime with her family Mary eventually travelled to Winnipeg and took a position as house mother and cook at River House, a rehabilitative house for alcoholic women until 1971.

After travelling to Europe and a visit to northern England, the ancestral home, Mary returned to Swan River. Her son, George, had built her a new home where the original home was. She moved in February 1973. She was kept busy making quilts, doing crafts and gardening.

Mary is a life member of the Women’s Institute, Swan Valley Curling Club and St. Andrew’s United Church.

In the summer of 1986, Mary took up residence in the Rainbow Lodge where she enjoyed the companionship of the other tenants and her new home albeit it was much smaller.

After celebrating her 95th birthday on September 6, 1997, Mary left the Rainbow Lodge to take up residence at the Personal Care Home where she presently resides.
Born to Jack and Mary Alderson are: Margaret Helen, June 1921, George Frederick, March 1923, Leslie Gibson, June 1927, Audrey Elizabeth, August 1934, and Beverley Isabelle, May 1938.

Submitted by: George Alderson


Manitoba's Swan River Valley is an area rich in history. These family histories were a part of the 1998 Pioneer Centennial History Book project. If you would like the history of your area available online, have your historic group contact the Key Rock Group for information on electronic publication. We offer publication free of charge and also provide the option for making your history book available on CD.